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No. 294: Projection of greenhouse gases 2017-2040

Nielsen, O.-K., Plejdrup, M.S., Winther, M., Hjelgaard, K., Nielsen, M., Mikkelsen, M.H., Albrektsen, R., Gyldenkærne, S. & Thomsen, M. 2018. Projection of greenhouse gases 2017-2040. Aarhus University, DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy, 127 pp. Scientific Report No. 294. http://dce2.au.dk/pub/SR294.pdf


This report contains a description of the models, background data and projections of the greenhouse gases (GHG) carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) for Denmark. The latest historic year that has formed the basis of the projection is 2016. The emissions are projected to 2040 using a scenario, which includes the estimated effects of policies and measures implemented in Denmark’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (‘frozen policy‘ or ‘with existing measures’ projection) – meaning that the policies and measures are implemented or decided by February 2018. The official Danish energy projection, e.g. the latest official projection from the Danish Energy Agency (DEA), are used to provide activity rates (2017-2030) in the models for those sectors for which these projections are available. From 2031 to 2040, the projection is not part of the official energy projection and is an estimate made by DCE. The emission factors refer to international guidelines or are country-specific and refer to Danish legislation, Danish research reports or calculations based on emission data from a considerable number of industrial plants in Denmark. The projection models are generally based on the same structure and methodology as the Danish emission inventories in order to ensure consistency.

The main emitting sectors in 2017 are Energy Industries (24 %), Transport (27 %), Agriculture (22 %) and Other Sectors (9 %). For the latter sector, the most important sources are fuel combustion in the residential sector. GHG emissions show a decreasing trend in the first part of the projection period, but an increasing trend from 2020 and onwards. The total emissions in 2017 are estimated to be 48.4 million tonnes CO2 equivalents and 49.7 million tonnes in 2040. From 1990 to 2017 the emissions decreased by 32 %.

Stationary combustion

Stationary combustion includes Energy Industries, Manufacturing Industries and Construction and Other Sectors. Other Sectors include combustion in commercial/institutional, residential and agricultural plants. The GHG emissions in 2017 from the main source, which is public power and heat production (53 %), are estimated to increase in the period from 2017 to 2040 (34 %) due to an increase in the fossil fuel consumption for electricity production in the later part of the time-series. For residential combustion plants, a significant decrease in emissions is projected; the emissions decrease by 70 % and from 2017 to 2040, due to a lower consumption of fossil fuels. Emissions from Manufacturing Industries on the other hand increases by 24 %, due to an increase in fossil fuel combustion.

Fugitive emissions from fuels

The greenhouse gas emissions from the sector "Fugitive Emissions from Fuels" show large fluctuations in the historical years 1990-2016, due to emissions from exploration, which occur only in some years with varying amounts of oil and gas flared. Emissions from exploration are not included in the projection, as no projected activity data are available. Emissions are estimated to decrease in the projection period 2017-2040 by 42 %. The decrease mainly owe to expected decrease of offshore flaring in the oil and natural gas extraction. Emissions from extraction of oil and natural gas are estimated to decline over the projection period due to the expectation of a decrease of extracted amounts of natural gas. Emissions of greenhouse gases from other sources are estimated to be constant or nearly constant over the projection period.

Industrial processes and product use

The GHG emission from industrial processes and product use increased during the nineties, reaching a maximum in 2000. Closure of a nitric acid/fertiliser plant in 2004 has resulted in a considerable decrease in the GHG emission. The most significant sources of GHG emission in 2017 are mineral industry (mainly cement production) with 60 % and use of substitutes (f-gases) for ozone depleting substances (ODS) (27 %). The corresponding shares in 2040 are expected to be 86 % and 3 %, respectively. Consumption of limestone and the emission of CO2 from flue gas cleaning are assumed to follow the consumption of coal and waste for generation of heat and power. The GHG emission from this sector will continue to be strongly dependent on the cement production at Denmark’s only cement plant.

Transport and other mobile sources

Road transport is the main source of GHG emissions from transport and other mobile sources in 2017 (79 %) and emissions from this source are expected to decrease slightly in the projection period 2017 to 2040. The emission shares for the remaining mobile sources (e.g. domestic aviation, national navigation, railways and non-road machinery in industry, households and agriculture) are small compared with road transport. Non-road machinery in agriculture, forestry and fishing contributes 9 % of the sectoral GHG emission in 2017 and this share is expected to increase to 11 % in 2040.


The main sources in 2017 are agricultural soils (39 %), enteric fermentation (36 %) and manure management (23 %). The corresponding shares in 2040 are expected to be 40 %, 39 % and 20 %, respectively. From 1990 to 2016, the emission of GHGs in the agricultural sector decreased by 17 %. In the projection years 2017 to 2040, the emissions are expected to increase by 3 %. The reduction in the historical years can mainly be explained by improved utilisation of nitrogen in manure, a significant reduction in the use of fertiliser and a reduced emission from N-leaching. Measures in the form of technologies to reduce ammonia emissions in stables and expansion of biogas production are considered in the projections, but emissions are estimated to increase due to an expected increase in the number of animals.


The total GHG emission from the waste sector has been decreasing in the years 1990 to 2016 by 30 %. The decreasing trend is expected to continue with a decrease of 8 % from 2017 to 2040. In 2017, GHG emission from solid waste disposal is predicted to contribute 48 % of the emission from the sector as a whole. A decrease of 49 % is expected for this source in the years 2017 to 2040, due to less waste deposition on landfills. An almost constant level for emissions from wastewater is expected for the projection period. GHG emissions from wastewater handling in 2017 contribute with 14 %. Emissions from biological treatment of solid waste contribute 36 % in 2017 and 55 % in 2040.


The LULUCF sector includes emissions from Afforestation, Deforestation, Forest land remaining Forest land, Cropland, Grassland, Wetlands, Settlement and Other Land. The overall picture of the LULUCF sector is a net source of 4789 kt CO2 eqv in 1990. In 2016, the estimated emission has been reduced to a net source of 5413 kt CO2, a net source of 2771 kt CO2 eqv in 2020 and lowering to a net source of around 1593 kt CO2 eqv in 2035. The projection for 2040 do not include forestry. However, it should be noted that the overall emission from this sector is very variable as it is very difficult to predict future logging in the forests and the climate related emission/stock development in the agricultural soils. Agricultural mineral soils are expected to store more carbon in the near future. Agricultural regulations will reduce the area with cultivated agricultural organic soils further in the future, but there will still be a large net emission from these soils.

The Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Copenhagen University, carry out projections of emissions/removals from forestry.